Pound4poundireland’s 2018 Fight, Knockout, Round, Prospect, Upset and Trainer of the Year

Fight of the Year

1. Alex Saucedo-Lenny Zappavigna

2. Dereck Chisora-Carlos Takam

3. Vasyl Lomachenko-Jorge Linares

Knockout of the Year

1. Alvin Lagumbay ko2 Keita Obara

2.  Teofimo Lopez ko1 Mason Menard

3. Harlem Eubank ko2 Petar Alexandrov

Round of the Year

1. Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury Round 12

2. Dillian Whyte-Joseph Parker Round 12

3. Alex Saucedo-Lenny Zappavigna Round 4

Prospect of the Year

1. Teofimo Lopez

2. Joshua Buatsi

3. Devin Haney

Upset of the Year

1. Roberto Ramirez ko2 Dejan Zlaticanin

2. Rob Brant UD12 Ryota Murata

3. Tony Harrison UD12 Jermell Charlo

Trainer of the Year

Anatoly Lomachenko – for his work with Oleksandr Usyk and Vasyl Lomachenko

Fights to look forward to in 2019?

  1. Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder/Tyson Fury

Joshua-Wilder, the most tiresome ‘will they/won’t they’ saga since Mayweather-Pacquiao, had better come to an end this year.

Will it, though? I’m not terribly optimistic, partially because Tyson Fury may well complete the job he was robbed of if that rematch does indeed happen next.

I think Joshua-Fury would be even more compelling as far as an evenly matched contest goes, so either one will do.

2. Anthony Joshua-Oleksandr Usyk

The likes of Joshua-Miller or Joshua-Whyte II, while not bad fights in a vacuum, hold little interest for me.

The only truly acceptable substitute on Joshua’s side for the unifications we all want would be a clash with cruiser king and fighter of the year for 2018, Oleksandr Usyk. I’d be fascinated to see if Usyk could negate Joshua’s massive size advantage with his fluid, fleet-footed skills.

3. Oleksandr Gvozdyk-Eleider Alvarez

If Alvarez repeats his win over Kovalev, this is the fight that makes sense for the second half of 2019, especially given that they are now both under the Top Rank banner.

4. Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin III

After two memorable, controversy-laden fights, a third bout is still needed in my eyes to settle this rivalry. If network free agent Golovkin doesn’t sign with DAZN, however, that could mean it never materializes.

5. Errol Spence-Keith Thurman

Thurman has drawn near-universal ire for declaring he’s still the best welterweight in the world in 2019 but that this year will be a “get back” exercise, and he has no intention of fighting Spence anytime soon.

We will see. In a common sense world, it would be the logical next step after Thurman’s tune-up and Spence thrashing an undersized Mikey Garcia.

6. Amir Khan-Kell Brook

Does anyone really prefer to see the mooted Terence Crawford vs. Khan fight over this one?

This fight is worth twice the money of a sure fire beating at the hands of Crawford and Brook has agreed to welterweight and a rehydration clause.

Please let cooler heads prevail and end the decade long foreplay for this domestic grudge match. Who cares if both guys are now faded, it might actually make for a better fight.

7. Regis Prograis-Josh Taylor

The most likely final of the 140lb. WBSS (rumoured money problems in the tournament aside), this would be a mouthwatering clash between two young, world class talents in their primes.

8. Tevin Farmer-Gervonta Davis

Too much social media bullshit, too little action.

Farmer has impressed lately, albeit against limited opposition. Davis has been inactive, gotten fat and will next be stepping on a faded Abner Mares.

Promotional differences may prevent this matchup, given that Leonard Ellerbe says he will never allow Davis to fight on “Dead Zone”.

9. Oscar Valdez-Josh Warrington

Warrington opened a lot of eyes in 2018 with a breakout year. Valdez returns from a broken jaw with an easy comeback fight early in 2019, but a unification between these two would be a can’t miss action fight.

10. Naoya Inoue-Zolani Tete

The most likely final of the 118lb. WBSS would be a purists dream.

Inoue continues to excel in his third weight class, but Tete would be seeking to prove that his slick skills, long consigned to the ‘who needs him’ fringes of the big stage, can hang with one of the pound for pound best.

 

Pound4poundireland’s 2018 Fighter of the Year

Usyk1211abc

Fighter of the Year

1. Oleksandr Usyk

2. Josh Warrington

3. Vasyl Lomachenko

It was a slam dunk choice this year.

Oleksandr Usyk fulfilled every ounce of his vast potential in 2018: unifying belts by beating Mairis Breidis in his back yard in a thriller, becoming undisputed champion by dominating Murat Gassiev in Russia in the World Boxing Super Series final, and, finally, knocking out Tony Bellew away from home in a final title defence.

He is the modern day road warrior, a worthy heir to Evander Holyfield at cruiserweight, and the boxing world waits to see if he can replicate the Real Deal’s heavyweight exploits, starting next year.

Warrington claims second place on the strength of two upset wins against longtime rival Lee Selby, and then Carl Frampton, to improbably establish himself among the featherweight elite.

Usyk’s friend and stablemate Lomachenko continues his ascent in weight to have another impressive year, knocking out Jorge Linares in a back and forth technical masterclass to win a belt at 135, then unifying post surgery by defeating Jose Pedraza.

Pound4poundireland’s 2017 Fighter of the Year

Rungvisai Gonzalez Boxing

Fighter of the Year

1. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai

2. Vasyl Lomachenko

3. Mikey Garcia

Mikey Garcia reminded everyone of his talent this year, continuing his comeback from a long layoff to first destroy titlist Dejan Zlaticanin at lightweight in a KO of the year candidate, then dominate Adrien Broner at 140.

“No Mas-chenko” was coined in boxing lore thanks to consecutive schoolings in 2017 of Jason Sosa, Miguel Marriaga and (the admittedly much smaller) Guillermo Rigondeaux, all of which resulted in corner retirements, cementing Vasyl Lomachenko near the top of everyone’s estimations of boxing’s top fighter.

Wouldn’t it be great to see Lomachenko-Garcia in 2018? A shame that promotional differences, maybe size too, will keep them apart, at least for now.

The outstanding fighter of 2017 to my eyes was the formerly unheralded Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

Prior to 2017, the Thai, birth name Wisaksil Wangek, a former kickboxer of over 50 professional fights, was most known for a brief 115lb. title run that ended in a cut-shortened defeat to Carlos Cuadras in 2014.

But, having not faced a fighter with a decent record in two years, he fought a savage war with consensus pound for pound #1 and undefeated lower weight legend Roman Gonzalez, coming out with a hotly debated decision win, one which I felt he had earned.

All debate was quenched in the immediate rematch 6 months later, when Rungvisai stepped it up yet another gear and flattened Gonzalez brutally in the fourth round.

He’s earned his place among boxing’s elite, will have a chance to further his case against another lower weight darling when he takes on Juan Francisco Estrada next month, and is the Pound4poundireland Fighter of the Year for 2017.

 

Fights to look forward to in 2018?

Note: I’ve kept this list to bouts that can realistically happen next year, hence why you won’t see any fights like Burnett-Tete or Kovalev-Beterbiev on this list that are likely prevented by promotional/TV differences etc.

1. Tyson Fury- Anthony Joshua

Now that Fury’s UKAD situation has finally been sorted out, he can end his two year plus layoff and this long-discussed fight can approach becoming a reality.

It’s probably a long shot for 2018, but here’s hoping.

2. Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder

More likely in the immediate future is AJ vs. Wilder for all of the sanctioning body marbles, arguably the most exciting fight that can be made in boxing.

3. Oleksandr Usyk-Murat Gassiev/Yunier Dorticos

As long as Usyk beats Mairis Breidis in his World Boxing Super Series semi, this fight should happen in the final to determine ultimate cruiserweight supremacy.

4. Sergey Kovalev-Dmitry Bivol

Bivol recently signed with Main Events and if Kovalev is really on the wane, perhaps a win in a fight like this could be what launches Bivol to stardom at the expense of his promotional stablemate.

5. George Groves/Chris Eubank Jr.-Callum Smith

Groves-Eubank in February is already as good as it gets in terms of matchmaking, but an expected showdown between the winner and Callum Smith in the WBSS final comes close to as mouthwatering.

6. Gennady Golovkin-Saul Alvarez II

This is a rematch that probably wouldn’t have been necessary if the judges had gotten things right the first time, but it’s still a fight that will be hugely anticipated.

With Canelo in his prime as both a boxer and darling of the judges, and Golovkin looking like he’s slowed down, maybe this will be the Mexican’s crowning glory.

7. Gennady Golovkin/Saul Alvarez-Billy Joe Saunders

The winner will have to face slick and underrated Billy Joe Saunders for undisputed 160lb. supremacy, however, and let’s hope that happens by this time next year.

8. Keith Thurman-Errol Spence

This is the obvious fight to be made at 147 (at least until Terence Crawford establishes himself at the new weight), but whether it will happen or not is a different question.

Thurman has expressed reluctance, expressing his preference to push it back until 2019 and admitting he’s lost some of his hunger for boxing.

9. Lee Selby-Carl Frampton

If Selby schools Josh Warrington as expected and Frampton overcomes a potentially dangerous fight with Nonito Donaire, this is the final destination that would make most sense.

They have the same promoter, Frampton wants another world title shot and Selby is looking for his defining fights after a few years in the wilderness.

10. Naoya Inoue-Srisaket Sor Rungvisai/Juan Francisco Estrada

It’s a shame that Inoue will possibly not stick around at 115lbs. long enough to meet the winner of the excellent upcoming SSR-Estrada fight, but why not just make it for 118 instead?

Pound4poundireland’s 2017 Fight, Knockout, Round, Prospect, Upset and Trainer of the Year

Fight of the Year

1. Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko

2. Dominic Breazeale-Izuagbe Ugonoh

3. Orlando Salido-Miguel Roman

Knockout of the Year

1.  Zolani Tete ko1 Sibonsino Gonya

https://pound4poundireland.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/full-fight-video-zolani-tete-vs-sibonsino-gonya-fastest-world-title-ko-in-history/

2. Jermell Charlo ko1 Erickson Lubin

3. Carlos Daniel Cordoba ko6 Martin Ariel Ruiz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0ti_zenlbU (@ 5:45)

Round of the Year

1. Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko Round 5

2. Roarke Knapp-John Bopape Round 3

3. Dominic Breazeale-Izuagbe Ugonoh Round 3

Prospect of the Year

1. Josh Kelly

2. Jaime Munguia

3. Vergil Ortiz Jr.

Upset of the Year

1. Caleb Truax MD12 James DeGale

2. Jeff Horn UD12 Manny Pacquiao

3. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai MD12 Roman Gonzalez

 

Trainer of the Year

Derrick James – for his work with Jermell Charlo and Errol Spence

Pound4poundireland’s 2016 Fighter, Fight, Knockout, Round, Prospect, Upset and Trainer of the Year

Fighter of the Year

1. Carl Frampton

carl-frampton

2. Andre Ward

3. Vasyl Lomachenko

Fight of the Year

1. Francisco Vargas-Orlando Salido

2. Jamie Conlan-Anthony Nelson

https://pound4poundireland.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/full-fight-video-anthony-nelson-vs-jamie-conlan-fight-of-the-year-candidate/

3. Leo Santa Cruz-Carl Frampton

https://ok.ru/videoembed/93337488021

Knockout of the Year

1.  Hassan N’Dam ko1 Alfonso Blanco

2. Deontay Wilder ko9 Artur Szpilka

3. Murat Gassiev ko1 Jordan Shimmel

Round of the Year

1. Yoshihiro Kamegai-Jesus Soto Karass I Round 10

2. Jamie Conlan-Anthony Nelson Round 5

3. Edwin Rodriguez-Thomas Williams Jr. Round 2

Prospect of the Year

1. Jarrett Hurd

2. Jason Quigley

3. Hughie Fury

Upset of the Year

1. Joe Smith Jr. ko1 Andrzej Fonfara

2. Jezreel Corrales ko2 Takashi Uchiyama

3. Julius Indongo ko1 Eduard Troyanovsky

Trainer of the Year

Shane McGuigan – mainly for his work with Carl Frampton, but also George Groves

Fights to look forward to in 2017?

Note: I’ve kept this list to bouts that can realistically happen next year, hence why you won’t see any fights like Thurman-Bradley or Santa Cruz-Lomachenko on this list that are likely prevented by promotional/TV differences.

1.Tyson Fury- Anthony Joshua

If AJ can emulate Fury by beating Klitschko, and Fury can overcome his myriad mental health and drug issues, this is the most meaningful and, possibly, the biggest money fight in heavyweight boxing.

2. Anthony Joshua-David Haye

I say “possibly”, because boxing’s ultimate conman, David Haye is looking for his cashout fight & remains a bigger name than Fury.

3. Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev II

After a highly skilled first meeting that ended with the most debated decision of recent years, the only way to definitively settle matters would seem to be an immediate rematch, which happens to be in the contract from the first bout.

But there’s often a way out of rematch clauses…

4. James DeGale/Badou Jack-Callum Smith

DeGale-Jack is the first treat of the 2017 boxing year, and the imposing figure of Callum Smith looms as mandatory for the winner.

DeGale-Smith would be big in the UK, but, whomever wins out between DeGale & Jack, it’s mouthwatering.

5. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin

In 2016, Gennady said “give me my belt”, and Canelo did.

Last year, I expressed optimism that Canelo would fearlessly face this challenge. That’s gone out the window and reputational damage has accrued. It’s a lot of agonizing to do over a fight that probably won’t be that competitive in the ring.

Still, we all want it, and a helluva lot more than proposed Canelo-Lemieux or, god help us, Canelo-Chavez Jr. bouts.

6. Kell Brook-Amir Khan

This fight, talked about for so many years, appears to be in serious negotiations for the first time. A ton of pride and each man’s legacy would be at stake. Surely it must happen eventually, why not 2017?

7. Manny Pacquiao-Terence Crawford

Freddie Roach hasn’t sounded too enthused about Pacman taking this fight, but one can speculate Bob Arum would be interested in a little of the great Filipino’s star power rubbing off on perhaps the USA’s best current fighter.

Pacquiao proved he can still go in 2016 and Crawford will be at welterweight sooner rather than later.

8. Ricky Burns-Adrien Broner

This oft-mooted bout has been discussed again as of late, and, while it would mean a lot less now due to each man’s wavering fortunes, it’d still be a lot of fun.

9. Orlando Salido-Vasyl Lomachenko II

It’s a fact that the great Lomachenko was beaten by a taxi driver. Let that sink in…

Salido recently outed himself as an Uber driver in his spare time, and, while the negotiations for this one have recently gone cold, I certainly want to see Lomachenko try to avenge the blot on his pro record before moving further up in weight and people’s pound for pound lists.

10. Roman Gonzalez-Naoya Inoue

Now that we’ve seen Ward-Kovalev, this is my pick for the best fight that can be made in boxing.

2 undefeated, p4p-rated, knockout punchers in their prime — ignore the weight if that sort of thing distracts you, this is a fight fan’s dream.

Named and Shamed: Judging the Judges (Special Edition: The Tyson Fury Situation)

Last November, in arguably the biggest major-fight upset in recent years, Tyson Fury decisioned the second longest reigning heavyweight titlist of all time, Wladimir Klitschko, to improbably ascend to the top of the division.

A man who was once seen as lumbering, out of shape and lacking stamina had proven that he could box on the outside like no 6ft 8″ man before him, and that his “too fast” moniker was more than just self-deprecating humour.

But, other than a great tactical gameplan, what was behind the transformation?

Now we know that Fury, and his cousin Hughie (one of the heavyweight division’s top prospects), tested positive for nandralone, a classic anabolic steroid, in February of 2015, information initially leaked by the Sunday Mirror on June 26th of this year.

The test was carried out by United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD), an organization whose reputation was recently damaged by their inaction in the case of informant tip-offs regarding Dr. Mark Bonar’s illicit activities with top sport stars.

As I will elucidate below, further inaction has marked their handling of this case.

The Furys have taken aggressive action and decided to sue UKAD, claiming that their position is strengthened by at least two subsequent negative tests in the following months, as well as testing clean in whatever testing surrounded the Klitschko fight. They also claim that UKAD informed them that the positive test was likely the result of a contaminated dietary supplement.

“The two boxers strenuously deny taking any performance-enhancing drugs,” said Fury lawyer Lewis Power.

“However, during the last five weeks leaks about these charges have appeared in the press and both boxers have been the targets of continual abusive language on Twitter.”

There are so many unanswered questions here, that I don’t even know where to begin.

If the positive test was in February 2015, why did it take UKAD until June 24, 2016 to “provisionally” suspend the Furys & prevent them from boxing?

Tyson fought twice in that time span, and Hughie 5 or 6 times. How could this have been allowed when UKAD knew they had a positive test on their hands?

What was being done in all that wasted 16 months, and what did any investigation undertaken by UKAD into the Furys’ case reveal?

It comes down to results management, and the expediting of drug test results is more important in fight sports than anywhere else.

UKAD have since lifted their provisional suspension, theoretically allowing the Furys to continue to box, pending a future hearing.

To quote from their statement: “The UK Anti-Doping Rules allow athletes to challenge the imposition of a Provisional Suspension and [we] today lifted the athletes’ suspensions, pending full determination of the charges. These charges will be heard at a hearing before the NADP in due course”.

Under what reasoning was an end to the provisional suspension granted?

Why is a hearing needed to determine if an anti-doping violation has occurred? What is it about this particular case that doesn’t match with the standard ‘positive A & B samples equal a ban’ equation?

Will such a hearing take place before the all-important Klitschko rematch, tentatively scheduled for late October?

If, at this hearing, an anti-doping violation is confirmed to have occurred, will Klitschko’s loss be overturned and the titles stripped from Tyson?

What we do know is that the Team Fury have already lied on at least two occasions surrounding these positives. Firstly, claiming an ankle injury as a reason to delay the Klitschko rematch, announcing as such on the very day the provisional ban came into place. Quite a coincidence.

They also lied on June 26th, releasing statements saying they were “baffled” at the doping rumours in the press, when in fact they knew they had been suspended two days prior.

 

What a mess.

Between this case, and the test failures of Alexander Povetkin, Erkan Teper, Lucas Browne, Tony Thompson & Luis Ortiz, I have about as much faith in the cleanliness of the heavyweight division as I do the 100m sprint.

And that’s not even getting into a discussion of the suspiciously gargantuan physiques of some of the other top guys in the division.

 

EDIT 16/9: Team Fury still claim that the ankle injury was legitimate and that they were informed of the provisional suspension less than an hour after they had announced publicly the posponement of the bout.

At this point, as the rematch has been made official for October 29th, it is unclear whether the UKAD hearing on the tests will take place after the bout, or expedited to before it. The latter is quite obviously the only sensible option.

Team Fury further claim that, when first informed about the failed tests, they were informed by UKAD that they had done nothing wrong and were given dietary information on foods which may contain nandralone.

We can only hope the truth of the matter becomes more clear in the aftermath of the hearing.

Pound4poundireland’s 2015 Fight, Knockout, Round, Prospect, Upset and Trainer of the Year

Fight of the Year

1. Anthony Joshua-Dillian Whyte

2. Takashi Miura-Francisco Vargas

3. Edwin Rodriguez-Michael Seals

Knockout of the Year

1. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez ko3 James Kirkland

2. Courtney Blocker ko2 Dominic Goode

3. Gabriel Bracero ko1 Danny O’Connor

https://pound4poundireland.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/video-gabriel-bracero-vs-danny-oconnor-ii-knockout-of-the-year-candidate/

Round of the Year

1. Edwin Rodriguez-Michael Seals Round 1

2. Amir Imam-Fidel Maldonado Jr. Round 3

3. Marco Huck-Krzysztof Glowacki Round 6

Prospect of the Year

1. Anthony Joshua

2. Takuma Inoue

3. Callum Smith

Upset of the Year

1. Tyson Fury UD12 Wladimir Klitschko

2. Yvan Mendy SD12 Luke Campbell

3. Aron Martinez UD10 Devon Alexander

Trainer of the Year

Joe Gallagher – for his work with Anthony Crolla, Scott Quigg, Callum Smith & Liam Smith